As unbelievable as [White Dude Super Detective (WDSD)] characters are, they would become infinitely more so if their race or gender were changed. In The Mentalist, WDSD Patrick Jane once grifted clients as a fake psychic, but now works as a hard-to-control resource for the California Bureau of Investigations. What if the Jane character were a Latino ex-grifter? Would his arrogance and propensity for sneaking into suspect’s homes and accusing wealthy businessmen of impropriety read as quirky and charming? Would anyone believe that a police force would allow such behavior? Could the Scotland Yard of fantasy be down with a coke-addicted black Sherlock—no matter how clever?
The San Francisco police department abides Adrian Monk’s obsessive-compulsive disorder, as the FBI allows Perception’s Dr. Daniel Pierce to assist on cases, despite his unmedicated schizophrenia and paranoia, which results in hallucinations. Could a black woman be cast in those roles to the same effect? I submit, that even in the fictional worlds of literature and television, race and gender matter. Belief can only be suspended so far. And this archetype is reliant on power that comes with white maleness in American society.
#i still remember bossymarmalade and glockgal’s deconstruction of white privilege in supernatural #and how dean and sam worked so well #because no one ever questioned white dudes #even when they were sketchy as fuck #and then glockgal drew racebent spn comics #where sam and dean really had to work to be able to be hunters #because they couldn’t just get away with fake IDs now that they weren’t white anymore #it was so amazing #i would’ve watched THAT show forever
This. This. And This.
This is also, I think, related to the Charming White Asshole trope (see House, Iron Man, etc.)
Well, House IS a WDSD because it’s just a medical spinoff of Sherlock Holmes, but yes, all of the above
Yup. I watched the first episode of Murder on the Home Front and it is again, a WDSD, a pathologist in WWII who teaches the police about proper detecting techniques. I would be a hundred times more interested if the lead were a woman, and a million times more if a WoC.
My friends and I called this type of lead the Unorthodox Detective, usually a charming, rogueish type outside and/or unliked by the police force (or medical/legal team, depending on the show) who doesn’t follow the rules but Gets Things Done.
I like or tolerate most of them, but there’s got to be a limit to just how many white people they can stick in there. Of all of them, I can remember…six that have been white women? Crossing Jordan, Body of Proof, The Closer, Veronica Mars, Homeland, Bones? And then for males, off the top of my head, The Mentalist, House, Sherlock (BBC), Elementary, Psych, House, Justified, Suits, White Collar, Castle, Perception, The Glades, Lie to Me, H50 (note how often Chin and Kono have to deal with IA accusations and then how often the issue even comes up for Steve), these mostly from just the last few years. Heck, arguably one of the best shows ever, compare the situations faced by McNulty and Daniels in The Wire.
Rule-breaking and independence are encouraged if you’re a white male, tolerable if you’re a white woman, and not allowed if you’re a PoC.